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Though the emotional wounds are still healing, physical traces of September 11′s attacks are largely gone. The Pentagon once again has five sides, and tourists thronging downtown Manhattan see little more than a poignantly barren, 16-acre pit. But there’s one place where evidence of the attacks-and the subsequent war on terror-remains easy to discern: language. As Americans cope with an altered world, we’re coining new words and applying old ones in new ways. The argot of hardened business travelers now includes security terms, and military jargon has infiltrated the workplace. The result? A telling cache of linguistic artifacts. Struggling to summarize assaults that were neither typical hijackings nor bombings, Americans quickly came up with “9/11.” That shorthand has already been enshrined in some dictionaries. With similar speed, “ground zero” became the name of a specific place. And United Airlines Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer’s gutsy words, “let’s roll,” were hailed by President Bush, and woven into a song by Neil Young. Managing The Queues In the workaday world, most people feel the effects of 9/11 and the war on terror most acutely at the airport. It didn’t take long for companies to tell their lawyers to charge up their laptops and return to the skies. First, however, corporate nomads had to get through airport security. Stressed-out frequent flyers added words like “wanding” to their vocabularies. Catapulted from industry obscurity, “to wand” first came to prominence when guidelines at Washington, D.C.’s National Airport warned travelers to expect “random hand-wanding at the gate.” If only it were as naughty as it sounds. The people wielding those metal-detecting devices-and those who, like consulting sur-geons, debate x-ray images-are called “screeners.” Reaching the screeners means doing serious time in a line. Here one may encounter a “queue manager” or a “line concierge.” Both terms are brought to you by the friendly folks at Walt Disney Company, a corporation that’s given more than a little thought to this subject. Though most travelers welcome the added security, occasionally it’s just too much. “Gate rage” is back. Pilots are ticked off about being subject to random, special searches. They call the scrutiny “gate rape.” It’s not just airport security that’s spawned a new vocabulary. Ever since the ancient Greeks invented the Trojan horse, wars have generated words. U.S. troops in Afghanistan have yet to come up with anything as resonant as World War I’s “lousy,” which arose from the lice-ridden trenches. But marines use “stuck in the ‘stan” to describe their remote posting. And they’ve coined the name “frappustano” for a vile-sounding blend of dehydrated, government-issue coffee, creamer, cocoa, and sugar, shaken up with lots of water. But the real test of war lingo is whether it enters the civilian vocabulary. The business world adopted “collateral damage” to describe the hit taken by Enron Corp.’s consultants and accountants. The Imports A linguist once quipped that a language is nothing more than a dialect spoken by a victorious army. But even though we’ve arguably laid Al Quaeda low, a number of Arabic terms have infiltrated everyday talk. Seemingly overnight we’ve learned that a madrassah is an Islamic school. “Jihad,” which literally translates from Arabic as “struggle,” has been used in the U.S. to mean Islamic holy war. When teenagers say that something is “a total jihad,” however, they mean it’s terrible. Another teenage coin-age, “so September 10,” meaning naive or clueless, seems a bit too heartless to make the leap to the adult world. In fact, fewer September 11-based words and phrases have entered the language than linguists expected. According to Dennis Baron, professor of English and linguistics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the reason may be an unwillingness to joke about everything that’s happened in the past year. “The events were so horrible,” he says, “it dampened creativity.” E-mail:

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